The newly named Portland Metro Chamber (formerly the Portland Business Alliance) brought together city, county, regional and state leaders to announce a collaborative series of initiatives to accelerate our central city and region’s recovery. Together, we are building bridges to a new, better Portland.
The Portland metro region has faced a series of crises that have negatively impacted the economy, challenged its sense of community, and have tarnished its national reputation. The Portland Metro Chamber has been working with local, regional, and statewide elected leaders to support central city recovery, help small businesses, restore public safety and livability, and aspire to build a more resilient and equitable economy for future generations of Portlanders.
Today, these plans were shared with a sold-out Annual Meeting of more than 500 members and stakeholders at the 2023 Annual Meeting, presented by U.S. Bank. The event convened local, regional, and state elected leaders to share their respective plans for moving a stronger Portland forward.
One of the announcements was the renaming of the chamber of commerce. The organization will now be the Portland Metro Chamber with a new logo and website. The organization was first established more than 150 years ago. Over that storied history, the organization has evolved and grown to reflect our changing community. The new name has changed but the mission and commitment to the greater Portland region remains the same. The Portland Metro Chamber will continue to represent the largest, most diverse network of businesses in the region. More than 80% of our members are small businesses.
The Portland Business Alliance name isn’t going away. It will now represent the collective three organizations, Downtown Portland Clean & Safe, the Portland Metro Chamber and Partners in Diversity, a program of the Charitable Institute. The organization will continue to share a commitment to making this region and state a better and more equitable place for everyone because we know we are stronger together.
The Portland Metro Chamber also announced that, for the second consecutive year, it is a finalist for the American Council of Chamber Executives Chamber of the Year award.
Elected Officials Announced Critical Plans to Accelerate Portland’s Recovery:
The Portland Metro Chamber’s special guest Oregon Governor Tina Kotek joined the program to discuss the state’s commitments to Portland and Multnomah County’s recovery. Governor Kotek announced a plan to invest $1 million to expand Clean Start, the program that provides formerly unhoused Portlanders full time jobs to deliver trash removal and cleaning services to the Portland metro area. Clean Start was established in 1996 as a partnership with the downtown business community to provide enhanced cleaning, as well as provide pathways to services, and supportive housing for the formerly unhoused, and is operated by Central City Concern.
Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson announced the county will contribute an additional $1.5 million to match the Governor’s Clean Start investment.
Chair Vega Pederson also announced that the temporary fence that has been surrounding the county courthouse will be removed by the end of the month. A critical symbol of the tremendous progress made in downtown since 2020.
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Portland City Commissioner Carmen Rubio provided an overview of community safety, economic development strategy and homeless initiatives that the city has undertaken over the past year.
- The City will evaluate the opportunity to create a new tax increment financing (TIF) district in the Central City in order to dedicate a revenue source to support affordable housing, public right-of-way improvements, retail re-tenanting efforts, and to spark redevelopment projects and mixed use vibrancy.
- The city will expand its enterprise zone program in the central city to attract and retain employers through property tax abatement.
- The Mayor proposed a business license tax credit for companies that choose to locate in the central city, which currently has a 26% vacancy rate.
The City also passed a package of incentives to encourage office conversions to residential uses in the central city and is actively advocating for additional support from county, state, and federal partners. The City is seeking other adaptive reuses of vacant office spaces such as childcare services, art exhibits, and more.
The Mayor also announced that he will be proposing an ordinance that will regulate open air drug use.
District Attorney Mike Schmidt discussed plans to reduce crime and improve public safety. This included the recently announced addition of retail theft and auto theft task prosecutors, the negotiated change in the Presiding Judge Order, and finally, an expansion of the neighborhood prosecutor program to the St. Johns neighborhood in North Portland.
Metro President Lynn Peterson announced a minimum investment of $10 million dollars in projects to redevelop areas like OMSI and the Albina Vision Trust’s waterfront park project. She also announced that plans are moving forward to convert the Expo Center into a world class youth sports facility to tap into the $92 billion youth sports economy.
Oregon State Representative Janelle Bynum was also in attendance. She is Chair of the House Committee on Small Business and Economic Development Strategies and she has advocated for the following bills during the Legislative Session:
- Senate Bill 4, the Oregon Chips Act, which will invest up to $200 million to support firms applying for federal CHIPs dollars.
- House Bill 3250, the State of Sport Act, which will take the first step toward Oregon developing a statewide economic development strategy to build on Oregon’s global leadership in the sports apparel, outdoor equipment, and sports and recreation economy. The State of Sport report was commissioned by the Portland Metro Chamber and a coalition of private sector, higher education, and public economic development agencies in 2022.